Tooth extractions are a common dental procedure that must occur when a tooth is unfortunately broken or decayed. Even though it’s a routine dental treatment, many people still don’t fully understand what this procedure involves.
When a patient doesn’t have a full understanding of their treatment, there’s often unnecessary fear and anxiety accompanying it. Here, we’re outlining from start to finish what exactly happens during a tooth extraction so that any patient with this kind of appointment coming up will know exactly what to expect.
The Reason for Tooth Extraction
A tooth must be professionally extracted by a dentist if it has become decayed or has broken. Your dentist may first try to fix the problem tooth with another treatment such as a crown or a filling, but sometimes, the tooth simply must be pulled.
There are also additional reasons for tooth extractions. These include:
- Extra teeth crowding other teeth
- Slowly progressing baby teeth
- Teeth in the field of radiation
- Wisdom teeth
Before the Procedure
Regardless of the reason for tooth extraction, the procedure will always be the same.
Before the procedure, many times at an earlier appointment, the dentist or oral surgeon will perform an X-Ray in order to plan the best way of removing the tooth. At this point, it’s important for the patient to let the doctor know of their full medical and dental history.
Then, the procedure appointment will be scheduled. Many times, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to patients to take both before and after the procedure to avoid infection. A patient is more likely to receive these antibiotics if:
- They have an infection prior to the procedure
- The procedure is expected to be lengthy
- They have a weak immune system
- There are specific medical conditions that require it
On the day of the procedure before it takes place, the doctor may treat the patient with conscious sedation or general anesthesia. This is up to the preference of the doctor and the needs of the patient. Once the sedation or anesthesia has been administered and has taken effect in the patient (if any is being given), the procedure can begin.
During the Procedure
It’s important to know that there are technically two different types of extractions:
- Simple Extraction – procedure for a tooth that is visible in the mouth. Often, these procedures are performed by general dentists.
- Surgical Extraction – a more complex procedure performed on a tooth that may either be broken at the gum line or may still be below the gum. These procedures can be performed by general dentists or oral surgeons.
During a simple extraction, the dentist will utilise a tool called an “elevator” to get the tooth loose. Then, the tooth is simply removed with another tool called the forceps. This procedure often doesn’t even require anesthesia and can be done with a local anesthetic injection.
For a surgical extraction, there will be local anesthesia given, often in conjunction with IV anesthesia or conscious sedation.
During either procedure, if the patient is conscious, they will be able to feel slight pressure. There should be no pain, however, so if the patient feels pain, pinching, or other forms of discomfort, they should always let their doctor know.
After the Procedure
After the tooth extraction has been performed, the patient should be driven home by a family member or friend. They should be given post-surgery instructions for proper care.
The doctor will have the patient bite on a piece of gauze for at least 20 to 30 minutes after the surgery. Cuts in the mouth cannot scab, so it’s important to keep the pressure on the gauze pad for that length of time in order to allow the blood to properly clot. There may be a small amount of blood in the 24 hours that follow, but the patient should expect it to taper off shortly after. Once the clot around the wound has formed, the patient should not disturb it.
It’s important for any patient who has recently gone through a tooth extraction procedure to realise that they did, in fact, go through surgery. That being said, discomfort and mild pain after even simple extractions are to be expected.
Usually, this discomfort is mild. Research has shown that taking NSAIDs after a tooth extraction can reduce pain greatly. If the patient chooses to use NSAIDs to ease the discomfort, they should do so following the guidance of the doctor who performed the procedure.
After surgical extractions, on the other hand, the level of discomfort and the length it will last depends on the personal circumstances of the patient and their procedure. The doctor may prescribe a pain medication for the patient to take for the first few days following the surgery and then recommend a program of NSAIDs until the mouth has fully healed.
As the patient heals, they should keep the health of their mouth in mind. Eating cool and soft foods for the first few days will allow the mouth to slowly transition back to regular foods. It also helps to rinse the mouth with warm saltwater once a day to keep the area clean.
After the surgery, if the patient smokes, spits, or uses a straw, they are at a higher risk of pulling out the blood clot that should form where the tooth formerly was. If this occurs, the patient should contact their doctor immediately for advice.
Occasionally, there will be an issue forming the blood clot where the tooth formerly was. This can create what’s called a dry socket. When the mouth has a dry socket, the bone down below becomes exposed to all the air, food, and drink the patient consumes. It can create a bad odor or taste in the mouth. If the patient notices any of these signs, they should get medical attention as soon as possible.
Call for More Information
At Crescent Heights Dental, tooth extractions are a common procedure that we do for our patients. If you need to schedule an appointment for this procedure, or if you want to learn more, give us a call. We do everything to ensure the safety and comfort of our valued patients.